Feels Like An Unreleased PS2 Cult Classic Remastered in HD, and it's Good!
God of War, Ico, Tomb Raider, Uncharted and other similar games offer a medley of platforming, combat and discovery to bridle monotony.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom was a title I overlooked at the time of its release due to a multitude of lackluster review scores. As I began to search for more of my favorite genre, Majin was one of the few unplayed PS3 games that held promise. I purchased this game based solely upon two factors: the positive reviews I read here on Amazon, and the $25 pricetag. Even though I gave this game 3/5 stars which equates to 7.6/10, I want to stress that this is still a fun game that holds a place in my collection. I can safely say that your enjoyment of this game will be directly correlated to whether or not you are also a fan of the adventure/puzzle genre.
In short, this game looks and plays like a PS2 cult classic that has been remastered for the PS3. Graphics, Platforming, and Level Design all feel slightly archaic compared to other current releases. Yet, despite these drawbacks, Majin is still a whimsical fantasy with a light story and charming nature. My scoring is a result of this discrepancy. If you are somebody interested in the genre as well as HD remakes of older games (ICO Collection/Tomb Raider Trilogy/ God of War Collection/Prince of Persia Trilogy) then I believe you will find Magin a pleasant surprise.
THE DATED (neither excellent nor terrible , just....well...a bit dated by today's standards):
Graphics - Most animations including jumping, walking, talking, and interacting are stiff and cartoonish. Environments are atmospheric, colorful and well lit, but not wholly diverse or detailed. The Majin (named Teotl) visually "evolves" as you progress, but some details can be hard to discern due to lack of polish. Weather, water and particle effects for sand can similarly look like refined reincarnations of code from older PS2 games.
Level Design - Puzzles are quite easy and corridors are straight forward. Almost every area or boss fight (more like boss puzzle) utilizes a power upgrade in the form of a "Giant Berry" that the Majin consumed within the immediate vicinity. Furthermore, lock-on targeting for interactions always causes Teotl to use the correct power for the situation. Everything feels somewhat like what you would expect from a 2002-2005 adventure title limited by the hardware. Not to say it's bad, just not as far-reaching or grandiose as possible on today's consoles.
Enemy AI - Non-boss enemies attack in set patterns and react in a handful of specified ways. When you are out of the line of sight they often return to what they were doing, allowing you to sneak back up on them. Returning to an area causes enemies to respawn unless they are lower level monsters destroyed by the Majin (this allows you to level up your friendship and character stats for more powerful combos). Bosses are visually intriguing and unequivocal. Lesser enemies are not as distinct or varied.
THE BAD (- ):
Voice actors for various animals (mostly birds and mice) sound like people using accents in a play for 3rd graders. Thankfully these segments are easily overlooked, and you can even walk right past most of the animals without speaking to them!
Combat becomes a bit repetitive and it helps to vary up the Majin's powers to hold interest. Your character can only do a few moves, and you have to rely on your combo moves to spice things up.
THE GOOD (+):
Characters - The relationship between the two main characters is believable and endearing. The Majin looks, sounds and acts a LOT like Bluto from the movie "the Labyrinth." This muppet-esque persona prevents his childish and somewhat repetitive shouts (i.e. "Fly Away!" or "I Make Lightning!") from becoming grating. In the end, it is Teotl's innocent nature that ultimately becomes the pivotal backdrop for an epic finale. Your own character (given the name Tepeu by Teotl) is a proficient, albeit slightly weak, thief who suitably fits into the duo's narrative. Teamwork is the key to success in the Forsaken Kingdom, and thankfully the strengths and weakness of both characters work together to great effect.
Exploration - Finding all of the collectable items (memory fragments, upgrade berries, treasure chests with clothes and upgrade gems) is good ol' fashioned fun, and there's a ton to find in well hidden places. All of the areas have a map legend to tell you what you missed, so it never becomes frustrating to find them. I discovered 100% without using any guide and never felt frustrated. The best part is that finding most of these items gives you a better ending. The ending of the game also carries that cult-classic nostalgic feeling from an old favorite.
Sound - Excellent sound effects and an orchestral (take note Nintendo) score complements the scenery and action very well.
Button Layout and Teamwork - Giving commands to Teotl is very simple due to an accessible layout on the PS3 controller. More importantly is that he will quickly follow your most recent input. If you want him to disengage from a fight and follow you, just hit the "follow" prompt after he finishes another action.
Power based combat and puzzles using both characters is not always difficult, but still provides a sense of satisfaction when you do something well. AI for the Majin is predominantly helpful and rarely results in hand-holding escort segments. More often than not you will find yourself hoping for the Majin to come save you rather than vice versa!
Overall Majin is quite a good game. The graphics can't hold a candle to other recent titles, the voice-acting sometimes comes across like a B-list movie and puzzles aren't the mind-benders of something like Portal, but there's still magic in the Forsaken Kingdom. A charming story, competent mechanics, whimsical score and great exploration all work towards something more than mediocrity.
Imagine this title as a a PS2 game found in a basement and remastered by Game Republic and I guarantee you will have more fun than any critical reviews made you believe. (7.6/10)